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November 18th, 2016
Open Earth Observation Data Now More Accessible

St Petersburg,  – At the Thirteenth GEO Plenary Meeting, held in St Petersburg, Russian Federation from 9-10 November, 2016, representatives from GEO’s 103 Member governments and 106 Participating Organizations (POs) convened to launch a new look for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Portal. Participants also addressed how best to advance GEO Initiatives linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for the first time, to engage with the commercial sector through a Plenary panel session.

“Open data not only maximizes tax payers’ money in government infrastructure, it promotes economic growth, education and capacity building.” said GEO Secretariat Director, Barbara Ryan. “GEO brings all sides of the conversation together so that data is broadly and openly available, free to the user and can be used to create value-added products and services to benefit society.”

The Plenary meeting was held for the first time in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Region. New Member governments announced at the Plenary were Uruguay, United Arab Emirates and Mongolia. Among the new Participating Organizations approved in 2016 are the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC); the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team  (HOT); the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS); the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS); and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Co-host Alexander Frolov, Head of Roshydromet said: “We express our pleasure at the success of the GEO-XIII Plenary due to strong cooperation between the GEO community, Roshydromet and Roscosmos. Numerous Side Events organized by Members and POs clearly demonstrate the constantly evolving influence of GEO as an Intergovernmental body.”

Mikhail Khailov, Deputy Director General for Automatic Space Complexes of the State Corporation Roscosmos said “Coordination of activities, and the joint harvesting and usage the data of Earth Remote Sensing (ERS) that was organized at the GEO-XIII Plenary is very relevant for all of the GEO community. We are developing the technologies of ERS data processing and thematic services to benefit the people of the Earth through improved coverage, increased volume, quality and promptness of acquired ERS data.”

Philemon Mjwara, Director-General, Department of Science and Technology, Republic of South Africa and Chair of the Session reiterated the benefits of having access to EO data as an “enabling resource that allows us to begin addressing the Water-Food-Energy nexus, and other nexus, as a stepping stone to clearly understanding how the Earth’s systems work, and ultimately realizing GEOSS.”

Pengde Li, Deputy Director General National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of China said,“Downscaling implementation of GEOSS at national and regional levels has become extremely important to ensure broad engagement and sufficient resources to realize our ambitious vision. Fortunately, we see more and more Members start establishing national inter-ministerial coordination and using regional initiatives as a vehicle for broad engagement.”

The Plenary opened with a message from the International Space Station. In the recorded video message, the cosmonauts observed it is easy to understand the interconnected nature of the planet. Space technologies help to understand Earth’s complicated processes and problems. Humankind is facing global challenges today, and international cooperation plays a crucial role in tackling these issues. The work of GEO makes Earth observations more widely available and meaningful, for the benefit of humanity. Link: https://youtu.be/C7nmvNb1z14

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is comprised of 103 Member governments, and 106 Participating Organizations. Established in 2005, GEO strives to improve the world’s observation systems and provide policy makers and scientists with accurate and useful data that can be used to make informed decisions on issues affecting the planet.  GEO’s primary focus is to develop a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to enhance the ability of end-users to discover and access Earth observation data and convert it to useable and useful information. GEO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, visit www.earthobservations.org